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USA! USA! Your 2016 Session-by-Session Ryder Cup Recap

The last time the U.S. won a Ryder Cup, Jordan Spieth was barely old enough to drive, and 5 years from being old enough to drink.

This time around, the champagne flowed freely.

Collecting the Cup for the first time since 2008, the U.S. team looked mostly unstoppable all weekend. And as the Ryder Cup is apt to do, the whole affair produced all sorts of unforgettable moments, from an on-fire Phil to a red-hot Reed, a boatload of birdies, and the emergence of future Ryder Cup stalwarts. We don’t want to spoil all the fun, but here’s a look at what Patrick Reed was doing before one of the biggest putts of his life.

So yeah, it was intense. Check out the complete session-by-session breakdown below.

FRIDAY MORNING

Europe never looked settled throughout day one’s morning sessions, sending out 4 teams for the alternate shot, or “foursomes” format.

They’d end the morning without taking a single point. Maybe Team USA had a guardian angel to help get a head start.

The much-talked-about duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who excelled in 2014, jumped out on major winners Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, taking a quick 3-0 lead, before ultimately winning 3 & 2. The lone hole lost by the U.S. featured a 1.5-foot putt they opted not to concede to Stenson. The gamesmanship started early, obviously.

Phil Mickelson admitted his nerves from the jump, and with wayward drive after wayward drive, looked out of sorts. He and Rickie Fowler would get rolling on the 7th though, netting 3 consecutive wins, before losing 3 more, and then finally winning 3 more. Needless to say, this match was an absolute thriller, as 11 holes were won, and it took all 18 to find a winner.

Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson battled back-and-forth against U.S.-thorn-in-the-side Sergio Garcia and 4-time Ryder Cupper Martin Kaymer. But then, lightning in a bottle. The U.S. side won the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th holes, turning a 1-down deficit into a 4 & 2 victory.

DJ and Kuchar jumped all over Westwood and Pieters, scoring 5 points before surrendering a hole. Johnson-Kuchar would never feel challenged, ultimately winning 5 & 4, losing only the aforementioned 9th hole. From the jump, this match was red all the way.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON

Europe Gets Hot, Wins 3 in Afternoon Ryder Cup Session

The celebration of the strong 4-0 start for Team USA was short-lived, as a re-energized Team Europe stormed back in the afternoon 4-ball matches. Birdie after birdie fell, and 3 of the 4 matches went the way of the blue and gold.

The lone win came from the team of Brandt Snedeker-Brooks Koepka. Koepka is a rookie in the Ryder Cup, and while veteran play is often praised in this format, he answered any questions about his nerves by hitting a 330-yard bomb and an approach to just over a foot. The opening birdie didn’t even net a hole thanks to Europe’s matching effort, but nevertheless, the great start led to victories on Holes 2 and 3, and from there, the pair would never feel pressured. They’d ultimately close out the match 5 & 4.

Spieth and Reed couldn’t carry their momentum from the morning, as the Gold and Silver Olympic medalists from Europe would get their putters going. They combined for 9 birdied and needed just 14 holes to close out the American duo, 5 & 4.

Ryan Moore and J.B. Holmes played their first matches of the day against Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello, and wouldn’t get it going until much too late. Trailing by 4 headed into the 13th, the Americans won 2 holes and challenged on the troublesome 16th, but couldn’t net a hole. They’d lose 3 & 2. For American fans not familiar with Bello, do yourself a favor and catch some of his European Tour play. He is a favorite by many analysts-in-the-know to make a run in a major very soon.

Rory McIlroy, who lost in the morning to Rickie and Phil, came out with a head full of steam, reminding us all—including Davis Love III—that his A-Game is all but unbeatable. The Americans (Kuchar and Johnson, playing together for the second time that day) challenged late, but the Europeans’ capturing of 4 straight on the front-9 would prove too much to overcome. Rory’s unreal eagle on the 16th (which was set up by a 220-yard iron to pin-high) closed out the match, and the day, for a 3 & 2 European victory.

The Americans looked all but unbeatable Friday morning, but the mighty blue and gold team showed they had no designs on giving up their trophy easily. The weekend was set up to be so, so great.

SATURDAY MORNING

“This isn’t any given Saturday” – Europe Starts Strong on Day 2

David Feherty is known for his wit and off-color commentary, but his quip before Zach Johnson rolled in a winning 4-footer on the 17th hole might be his most poignant call of the week.

Rory and Pieters (arguably the most impressive rookie at this year’s Ryder Cup) continued their hot streak, pouncing on Rickie and Phil from the first tee and never letting go. “Team GPS,” who saw a whole lot of Hazeltine on Friday morning en route to their win, couldn’t get it going, and Team Europe would surrender only three holes to the Americans en route to a 4 & 2 victory.

Matthew Fitzpatrick saw his first action of the week alongside Henrik Stenson, facing the hot combo of Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka. Like yesterday (when the Americans played together in Foursomes), they started hot and took a quick 2-up lead. The Europeans would battle back to even, but the pop stroke putting of Sneds and long-bombing of Brooks worked wonderfully again, and three victories on the back would build an insurmountable lead. They won 3 & 2.

The Johnson-Walker combo faced a Wood-Rose duo in a match that featured very few won holes by either side. Europe held a 3-hole lead headed to the 14th, when the U.S. began a 2-hole charge to push the match to the 18th. A bad flyer-lie for Zach Johnson sent his approach long, however, and the Europeans would hold on to win 1-up.

The golden duo of Spieth and Reed jumped all over the Spaniards Bello and Garcia, getting to 4-up in the first 11 holes. But the forever-thorny Sergio wouldn’t let his team go quietly, and he and his countryman would rally, winning 13, 15 and 16 to draw to just 1-down. With momentum firmly on Team Europe’s side, Patrick Reed stuck the green on the Par-3 17th just after Sergio’s ball got hung up flag high. Spieth’s putt from distance would hang on the lip, almost impossibly not going down, and Bello would roll his from just off the green to even the match. Clearly, no lead was safe at the Ryder Cup. Coming to the 18th, Bello piped his drive down the middle, while Spieth found the deep right rough. A safe center-green shot from Sergio set up a 2-putt par, while Reed’s approach went long, short-siding Spieth’s chip. Ultimately, they’d get it up and down with a clutch roll from Reed, who, despite giving up a 4-hole lead, headed to the afternoon as confident as ever.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

PATRICK REED CATCHES FIRE, LEADS U.S. TO 3-POINT AFTERNOON

Before this year’s Ryder Cup ever teed off, we knew how fired up Patrick Reed can get wearing red, white and blue.
But what we saw today was other-worldly.

Playing with a fire that made Sergio Garcia look downright stoic, Reed poured in birdie after birdie, and backed up a 78-yard wedge shot for eagle, growing evermore on-fire with each shot. But squared off against Rose and Stenson for the third time this Cup, Team U.S.A. couldn’t put away the major winners for good until the 17th. Spieth was all but a non-factor in Reed’s birdie barrage, which didn’t bode well for Sunday singles, but nevertheless, Reed’s performance will be played on Golf Channel’s “Golf’s Greatest Rounds” for years to come. Count on it. They won 2 & 1.

Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, elder statesmen on the team and two of the biggest jokers on Tour, jumped out early on Sergio and Martin Kaymer and never let them get too close, despite losing the 16th. Phil answered Sergio’s birdie on the Par-3 17th with one of his own, icing the match and taking the whole point for the U.S.

The Coach’s Selection duo of J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore rode Holmes’ birdies all day, but the Euro team of Masters winner Danny Willett and Lee Westwood wouldn’t let any lead grow too large. A par would build the final lead, as Westwood’s putter completely failed him. He pushed a sub-3-foot putt to let Moore’s par collect the lead. With both Americans in trouble off the tee, Westwood hit his approach to brush-in distance. They’d need a birdie to halve the match, but sure enough, with the memories of 17 weighing on him, he missed another short putt, halving the hole and handing the match to the Americans.

American fans, if you weren’t familiar with Thomas Pieters, you should be now. Headed out with Rory McIlroy against the long-hitting duo of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, Pieters looked like he was playing his home course, casually making shot after shot. As for Rory, he did his part all the same, and looked very much like the best-form Rory of years past. If you’re a gambler, now might be a good time to lock-in some 2017 major action on the Irishman. They jumped all over the U.S., and collected a 3 & 1 victory for Europe.

Headed into Sunday singles, the U.S. led 9.5 to 6.5. They needed 5 points in 2 matches to reclaim the Ryder Cup.

SUNDAY

Headed off first, Patrick Reed took on (and apparently asked for) the monumental task of downing Rory McIlroy, and backed up his request with a blitz of birdies that had the FedExCup Champion out of sorts. They traded -1s the entire front 9 before Reed was able to secure the lead late. It took a slippery, downhill, left-to-right birdie on 18 to take the point from Rory, but sure enough, Reed knocked it in.

This match was incredible from start to finish, and an amazing symbol of what the Ryder Cup is about for so many competitors: passion. Both McIlroy and Reed jabbed and taunted and poked and prodded each other, but both knew that they were putting on a show, much to the delight of golf fans worldwide, as well as each other.

Phil Mickelson made 10 birdies en route to a halved point with Sergio Garcia, and if you are wondering how anyone could make 10 birdies and NOT win the full point, Sergio made 9. They combined for 19 birdies.

19 BIRDIES!

Phil’s celebration was reminiscent of his Augusta leap when he won his first Masters, though we think this time around, he got even higher. Unfortunately for the U.S., Sergio answered with a clutch birdie of his own right after, halving the hole and the match.

Captain’s Pick Ryan Moore was the final point, besting Lee Westwood with a par on 18, following 2 won holes to push the match to the ultimate hole.

All in all, it was a Ryder Cup for the ages, at least if you’re American. The Committee, née Task Force, worked. Phil talked, backed it up. Reed talked, backed it up. Rory, Rose and Henrik tried to win it by themselves. Many Americans were introduced to Thomas Pieters, impressed by Thomas Pieters. Fellow Ryder rookie Brooks Koepka bombed his way to a 3-1-0 record, including a 5 & 4 win on Sunday. The U.S. went on to finalize the victory 17-10, and the players, coaches and captains all got to share the moment with someone special.

Well, most of them, anyway.

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